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[Review] Social Marketology

Social media marketing is probably the most heavily written management topic on the planet. Unfortunately, many books, articles, blogs and podcasts on social media focus too heavily on the “feel good” factor of success stories. These tend to be more inspirational than instructional.

Ric Dragon’s seminal publication “Social Marketology: Improve Your Social Media Processes and Get Customers to Stay Forever” is different. Providing a methodical framework covering strategy, organisation, execution and measurement, the book provides a step by step process to managing the social media marketing function.

In Dragon’s analysis of social media platforms, nine significant patterns can be discerned: identity, relationships, conversations, groups, gaming, presence, curation, reputation and gifting. These elements could be formulated into social pyramids which can be customized for different social platforms depending on their properties. They include Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest and so on.

An example is seen below:

Courtesy of DragonSearch Marketing

With this in mind, Dragon dissects the social world into its disparate components and reassembles them into a holistic game plan. This is elaborated in detailed chapters covering topics like organizing social media teams, brand management, customer micro-segmentation, community management, influencer management, action planning, measuring success and cultivating creativity.

Also termed as “Social Marketology”, this approach is visualized by the diagram below:

Courtesy of DragonSearch Marketing

Let me now highlight some of the book’s salient concepts:

Managing the Team: Similar to “herding cats”, social media units can be managed like “scrum teams” where work is broken into small chunks with specific tasks assigned and monitored daily. Critical roles include a director, community manager, blog editor, blogger(s), channel specialists, SEO specialists, photographers/videographers, producers, and analytics specialist. Policies governing employee behaviour, account management, content, security, and legal issues should also be implemented.

Goals and Measurements: Like any strategic endeavor, social media marketing must be aligned to the organization’s vision, and cascade downwards into discrete goals, strategies, tactics and metrics. Strategic objectives should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) while results should be documented and compared. Common measures include quantity of connections (friends, followers), online influence, share of voice, and reach.

Branding: Create a “brand voice” document that determines the character/persona, tone, language and purpose of the brand. This should cover vocabulary (or key words), best practices, and writing guidelines (names, personality, core values, passion, slogans, visual and verbal styles). Monthly brand voice reviews should also be conducted.

Customer Microsegmentation: Social media marketers need to understand how geographic, demographic, psychographic and behavioral segmentation can be spliced into hypergranular microsegments. Through extensive brainstorming and mind-mapping, broad segments (e.g. Singaporean youths) can be narrowed down to specific interest groups (e.g. Anime Society of Singapore). These groups can then be targeted more precisely.

Communities: Formed around “passion points”, communities can exist independently or be created by the organization. Appoint internal and external brand ambassadors, equip them with the right levels of recognition and autonomy, and compensate them accordingly (avoid cash if possible). Successful online communities should have regular In Real Life (IRL) events and activities that help solidify relationships.

Influencers: To be an influencer while collaborating with other “whales” on social platforms, conduct an audit of influencers and determine your relative position in specific domains. Display credibility through expertise, trustworthiness and goodwill.

Ascertain what your level of authority is, how many “gifts” (likes, comments, retweets) you are providing, and how likable you are. Create a dossier of each influencer (contact points, platforms, blog content, commenters on their blogs, etc), monitor their activities, and engage them when you have something meaningful to contribute.

Action Plan: Once ready to roll, map tactical activities onto specific channels (eg blog, Facebook, Twitter etc), determine effort, hours and objectives for each, and check them against the earlier social pyramid. Each platform would require four phases of engagement: identity (profile creation), making connections, creating content, and engagement. Do also develop documents for listening, channels, resources, and content.

Handling Mistakes: To minimize botch ups or recover quickly from them, we should avoid mixing technologies used for organizational and individual accounts. Adequate training is a must for the social media team. Where possible, do not delete user comments or posts, respond quickly, apologize profusely (if you trip up), use humor and have policies and “top responses” documents in place.

Creativity: Finally, consider how you can weave elements of good creative campaigns – fun, unexpected, participatory, cross media (or transmedia), and storytelling – into your activities. For videos, one can consider the 12 Video Triggers from Unruly Media. Brainstorming is a must for creative solutions, and environments should be created for ideation.

Put together, a “social marketology” plan should encompass all dimensions of online marketing, ie social, SEO and Pay Per Click (eg display advertisements). This can be represented by the chart below:

Courtesy of DragonSearch Marketing

Social Marketology” provides a useful and practical reference for folks tasked with social media marketing in their organizations. While it may not be feasible to adopt everything which the book suggests, its holistic framework is a good foundation for entrepreneurs and leaders to build, manage and implement social media marketing in their organizations.

Walter is a seasoned marketer and publicist with almost 19 years of experience in marketing, communications, social media engagement, events management, strategic planning and corporate development. A judge of the Singapore Blog Awards, he blogs at Cooler Insights.

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